October Surprises: 1980 and 2004

related page:

1980 October Surprise
Reagan/Bush deal with Iran to delay hostage release

"On October 19, 1980, Bush was dealing with Khomeini!"



The 'October Surprise': Inside Carter's Grueling 1980 Iran Hostage Crisis 

Today's New York Times story is credible but less significant than recent evidence from Madrid that Ronald Reagan's campaign manager tried to delay releasing the hostages until after the election. 

MAR 19, 2023



excellent compilation of news articles and investigations documenting the 1980 October Surprise


The Bushes & the Truth About Iran
By Robert Parry
September 21, 2006

several articles on the October Surprise


A web search on "Octopus" and "Danny Casolaro" will also add to this.


book reviews of three books about October Surprise


Honegger, Barbara. October Surprise. New York: Tudor, 1989. 323 pages.

California-based Barbara Honegger worked as a researcher at the Hoover Institution, then joined the Reagan team as a researcher and policy analyst in 1980. By 1983 she had become disillusioned and resigned, but her "love" for Reagan kept her from pursuing this story until after he left office. Actually she began leaking the story in mid-1987 after Iran-contra had become a household word; one suspects that it wouldn't have gotten far before then. "October Surprise" refers to the evidence that the Reagan campaign cut a secret (and treasonous) deal with Iran to delay the release of the American hostages, in order to keep President Carter from arranging a surprise release in October and winning the November election.
This book broke considerable ground on this story, which became much richer in detail over the following years. As this is being written in May 1992, new sources have come forward (Ari Ben-Menashe), other sources have been discredited (Richard Brenneke), and Congress is investigating. Honegger and her loose circle of supporters (which includes the LaRouche organization) have made a definite contribution, but by now they may be victims -- either of their own success or of deliberate disinformation or both. October Surprise sources comprise a who's who of sleaze and spookery; paranoia and suspicion abound and it becomes difficult to know whom or what to believe. It's a tall order for anyone, especially the U.S. Congress.

[note: Honegger has since become a promoter of the "Pentagon missile" about 9/11. Gary Sick's book, below, is more reliable.]


Parry, Robert. Trick or Treason: The October Surprise Mystery. New York: Sheridan Square Press, 1993. 350 pages.

Robert Parry was a reporter for the Associated Press in Washington from 1980-1987. He was the first to put Oliver North's name into print, and then pursued the contra drug angle to the dismay of his editors. After three years with Newsweek, which he also found frustrating, he began reporting for the PBS Frontline show. This allowed him to trot around the globe with a cameraman in pursuit of the October Surprise story. Many witnesses, some flaky and some credible, have claimed that in 1980 the Reagan campaign cut a deal with Iran regarding the release of the hostages. For someone like Parry, who believes that the U.S. holds democratic elections and reporters serve the public interest, this amounts to treason. For the rest of us, who gave up voting long ago, it's pretty much a dog-bites-man yawner. The best line in the book is when Alexander Haig tells Parry, "Come on. Jesus! God! You know, you'd better get out and read Machiavelli or somebody else because I think you're living in a dream world!"
This book suggests that forces are at work to muddy the record when citizens get too curious. Flaky witnesses bearing half-truths are dispatched, and the Parrys are kept chasing their tails. Now this is the real story. But just try to prove it. As one spook put it, "It's not true if it can't be proven." And good luck proving anything when the stakes are this high.


Sick, Gary. October Surprise: America's Hostages in Iran and the Election of Ronald Reagan. New York: Times Books - Random House, 1991. 278 pages.

Gary Sick spent 24 years in the navy as an analyst and served on the National Security Council staff under Presidents Ford, Carter, and Reagan. His book "All Fall Down: America's Tragic Encounter with Iran" (1985) is highly rated. He was a White House aide for Iran during the hostage crisis of 1979-81, and by 1991 was a professor at Columbia University.
"October Surprise" refers to the scenario that certain Reagan campaign officials, William Casey for one, may have arranged to delay the release of the hostages, thereby insuring that Carter would be unable to tilt the election with a "surprise" release in October 1980. This was proposed by Barbara Honegger in 1987 (see the annotation for her book), whereupon Joel Bleifuss of In These Times picked away at it in column after column. In October 1988 Abbie Hoffman wrote about it in Playboy, but still this isn't considered respectable. In April 1991 the New York Times ran an op-ed piece by Sick, who was beginning to get very interested in the issue, and "Frontline" did a show on PBS on April 16. Now the networks and Congress took notice. By late 1992, however, many observers considered some of the sources for the story to be unreliable, and almost everyone lost interest.


'Argo' helps Iran's dictatorship, harms democracy

Abolhassan Bani-Sadr, the first president of the Islamic Republic of Iran after the 1979 revolution, says that by falsifying, misrepresenting, and taking critical facts out of context, the Academy-Award winning film 'Argo' delivers a pro-CIA message at the cost of the Iranian people and history.

By Abolhassan Bani-Sadr / March 5, 2013 at 1:56 pm EST


.... Ayatollah Khomeini and Ronald Reagan had organized a clandestine negotiation, later known as the "October Surprise," which prevented the attempts by myself and then-US President Jimmy Carter to free the hostages before the 1980 US presidential election took place. The fact that they were not released tipped the results of the election in favor of Reagan.

Two of my advisors, Hussein Navab Safavi and Sadr-al-Hefazi, were executed by Khomeini's regime because they had become aware of this secret relationship between Khomeini, his son Ahmad, the Islamic Republican Party, and the Reagan administration.


Osama's October Surprise, 2004


October 28, 2004
Florida's Computers Have Already Counted Thousands of Votes for George W. Bush
by Greg Palast

Before one vote was cast in early voting this week in Florida, the new touch-screen computer voting machines of Florida started out with a several-thousand vote lead for George W. Bush. That is, the mechanics of the new digital democracy boxes "spoil" votes at a predictably high rate in African-American precincts, effectively voiding enough votes cast for John Kerry to in a tight race, keep the White House safe from the will of the voters.

Is FEMA planning a "terror alert" on Election Day?

note: this meme distracted some government critics from the more mundane, but devastating techniques used to rig the election in Ohio and several other states. It is a warning to avoid getting sucked into plausible, yet false claims of upcoming scandals.




Richard Clarke was on ABC Nightline talking about the Osama video.

His conclusions:
-- Osama wants Bush to win (to keep the status of "al-Qaeda" in the Muslim world).
-- Bush let Osama get away (from Tora Bora).

For more on Richard Clarke, see

Richard Clarke's Orchestra: Maestro Plays Simple Waltz;
Shackled Media Manage to Dance Along. by. Jamey Hecht, PhD.

Ted Koppel even mentioned that Osama pointed out that Bush was reading "My Pet Goat" and gave al-Qaeda more time for the attacks. This last point is very curious. It's understandable that OBL would want Dubya re-selected (they are a synergistic relationship), but why would al-Qaeda point out the "goat story" that hints at the (intentional) paralysis of the air defense system? This is a story that has many layers to it, and probably consists of deception upon deception woven into it. OBL attacking Bush in many ways strengthens Bush for some of his supporters, but also reminds others that Bush wasn't able to capture him. Bush and al-Qaeda have a synergistic relationship -- each feeds the power of the other. That synergism doesn't require that they like each other, or that they stop attacking each other, but each is behaving in ways that strengthens the others' influence. (9/11 saved Bush's administration, and Bush's blundering in Iraq is the best recruiting for al-Qaeda.)

Saturday, October 30, 2004

From Osama bin Laden's latest broadcast:
"We agreed with Mohamed Atta, god bless him, to execute the whole operation in 20 minutes. Before Bush and his administration would pay attention and we never thought that the high commander of the US armies would leave 50 thousand of his citizens in both towers to face the horrors by themselves when they most needed him because it seemed to distract his attention from listening to the girl telling him about her goat butting was more important than paying attention to airplanes butting the towers which gave us three times the time to execute the operation thank god."

It is impossible to know whether we should take anything bin Laden says at face value, but this comment on the timing of the attacks is interesting. While the timing of the broadcast makes it clear that Osama is playing right into Bush's election campaign by reminding Americans of why they instinctively look to Bush for security from the likes of bin Laden, the sly attack on Bush's goat book reading leaves enough ambiguity that Bush can argue that bin Laden is actually campaigning for Kerry, thus further increasing the value of bin Laden's words for Bush. Brilliant. Bin Laden continues to earn his pay.

Here's another commentary on the Osama surprise. It is a much rosier view of Kerry than what a Kerry administration would be, but the general conclusion (that OBL wants Bush) is probably true. It also overlooks the fact that Cheney and the people around him are very smart, and probably also want Iraq split into smaller countries (even if Bush isn't that bright). A civil war that converts Iraq into three new nations would probably make it easier for the US to dominate the oil fields (divide and conquer).


Date: Sat, 30 Oct 2004 02:45:08 -0400
From: genemessick @ earthlink.net
Subject: Bin Laden Emerges to Influence Election
So. Who would Osama bin Laden vote for?

I asked and answered that question 2 months ago, for those of you who file away my commentaries. Now, Osama has brought us his October surprise in his first video in 2 years, almost on Hallowe'en, no less! (Be aware we have seen only 6 minutes of the 18 so far.)

To see who bin Laden came out to campaign for -- and make no mistake about it, this was a commanding campaign endorsement, aimed at overwhelmingly influencing OUR election -- let's first look at who bin Laden does NOT want to be elected our President.

John Kerry has promised he will involve nations around the world, those George Bush alienated so thoroughly, in the War on Terror. Bin Laden's bunch, as the CIA just recently told us, has transformed from a structured "organization" to a worldwide "Movement". That's why even we say it doesn't matter much if we kill him, his franchised Worldwide Hate America Movement would be alive and well, if not more empowered by his martyrdom.

Bush has proven he cannot gather other nations to fight his self promoted War on Terrorism. So this is a plus in bin Laden's eyes. Kerry says he can, and as the new guy on the block, he most likely will organize a tight, effective world wide noose in many nations around bin Laden's Movement.

This means bin Laden would not have Kerry cornered in Iraq, as he has Bush pinned down, depleting his forces man by man, day by day, drip by drip, with no chance to win the guerrilla war. The longer bin Laden can keep his problems isolated to Iraq deserts, the more assured he is he will win. Secondly, Kerry is intelligent, and unlike Bush, will draw intelligent people around him. Bush, though savvy, by any measure is not very bright, and had totally NO foreign experience when he took office. He has absolutely no understanding of any culture outside Texas, other than the swaggering imitation Cowboy image that has not worked in our favor anywhere thus far. That's why our nation is in the general mess internationally that it's in.

To bin Laden, the Bush Administration's massive ignorance about Islam and what drives al-Qaeda has worked greatly to his advantage. Bush cannot imagine how to win the hearts and minds of Iraqis, other than promise them "democracy".

He will have to continue blowing up a major portion of Iraq before it can be made "secure" for elections. But even then, his promise is only an empty word, full of sound and fury and signifying nothing Iraqis can understand. The more he fails to deliver on rebuilding their infrastructure (nowadays we are blowing up more than we are building) and securing the peace, the less Iraqis want anything to do with his idea of "democracy". It's not truly outrageous to say that Iraqis might elect Saddam Hussein if he were on the ballot, preferring the stable security he provided to the devastating insecurity that is all Bush has delivered.

On the other hand, Kerry can and would draw around him people of good sense about international affairs, to provide intelligent guidance for America in the years ahead. This would not be good for bin Laden, because if we understand him, and speak the language and culture of Arabs as Bush could never do, then this works against bin Laden's goals. He needs to keep America angry and stupid. Look at the Bush Presidential campaign: promote anger, hatred and fear in the general population. Now that's a portrait of stupid. The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

So. What is there about George Bush that bin Laden likes? Well, there is no denying that George Bush is the greatest recruiting officer the al-Qaeda Movement has ever seen. If Bush had gone after bin Laden at Tora Bora and killed him, then had the good sense his Daddy did in the first Gulf Oil War and go home, al-Qaeda would be a minor player on the world stage. But, as some blond woman yelled out on Fox Newsytainment tonight, "the War on Terrorism is not going to be ended in a few years, it's going to go on for 40 or 50 years!"

Yep. That is what Bush has caused. Endless war for generations into the future. "Invisible" flag-draped coffins as far as the eye can see. And it suits bin Laden just fine. He knows we cannot win a war against a people who believe that dying is the best way to get to heaven.

Bin Laden also understands why Bush switched his focus from Afghanistan to Iraq. He knows, far better than most Americans do, that Cheney's plan to invade Iraq was on the drawing board even before Bush's selection to office. He knows what every Arab in the middle east knows: Bush's Second Gulf Oil War, like the first one, is only about who controls the oil under Arab sands. Some 65% of the World's oil reserves are in the Persian Gulf States, none of which are democracies. By contrast, the US sits on only 3%, but uses 25% of the world's oil. Now you know why Oilman Cheney cooked up the plan to invade Iraq about 6 years ago. They only needed an excuse.

Bin Laden provided the excuse on 9/11, or at least Bush claims he did. One has to wonder what other excuse would have been used by Oilman Bush to invade Iraq, had 9/11 not happened. Clearly, they had been cooking up the WMD excuse for some time.

Bin Laden knows that the Cheney/Bush Administration's absolute dedication to securing control over Iraq's oil will keep Bush tied down in the desert for years to come, and will make it impossible for him to go after the Movement as it grows to threaten other free nations around the world. As the Movement expands, expect kidnappings of Americans and ransoms to become a world wide al-Qaeda pastime.

Just how will Bush send the Reserves and National Guard to 60 al-Qaeda infested nations around the world? This is the unintended consequences of Bush's inability to plan or design or figure out or guess or surmise or think.

So. You have a choice on November 2.
Vote for John Kerry.
Or vote for the man bin Laden endorsed.

c 2004 -- Gene Messick

Terror Alerts vs. Bush's poll numbers (a very revealing graphic / analysis)

here are few things that are quite evident from the chart:

- Whenever his ratings dip, there's a new terror alert.
- Every terror alert is followed by a slight uptick of Bush approval ratings.
- Whenever there are many unfavorable headlines, there's another alert or announcement (distraction effect).
- As we approach the 2004 elections, the number and frequency of terror alerts keeps growing, to the point that they collapse in the graphic. At the same time, Bush ratings are lower than ever.


Weekend Edition
October 30 / 31, 2004
Fundamentalists in Agreement
Osama's Endorsement

It has been a bad few weeks for Bush with discoveries startling enough to kill, or at least stun, a normal candidate. But there is nothing normal about Bush. He just keeps plunging ahead, grunting and gasping, like one of the undead.
We learned that Bush wears a radio device at important events. This fact alone could explain his strange plodding movements and words, a creature waiting, eyes blinking mechanically, for each new word in its ear to register before reacting.
I understand that the existence of a radio device has not been proved, but it takes a much greater stretch of the imagination than a radio device to explain the strange shape photographed on the President's back, and science always favors simple, clear explanations. Some of his legions of loyal followers in trailer parks across the nation likely favor the idea of a device grafted to his back by aliens--this is a possibility I suppose--but reason casts some doubt.
How easy it would have been for Bush to dispel the radio-device idea. He just needed to call a brief press meeting with the hump in place, removing his jacket to reveal how a wrinkled shirt could create the distinctive three-dimensional shape. It would have been a very effective demonstration, but I think we all know why he didn't try it.
I hesitate to suggest a drug-pumping device similar to that worn by dying cancer patients, but the damning revelation by Kitty Kelly that Bush was still doing cocaine during his father's term as President leaves one wondering. Genuinely-recovered addicts are not that common, and here was a man, a weak man, addicted to two drugs, alcohol and cocaine. I know the Good Lord can work miracles, but most experience suggests He lets humans clear up their own messes.
Perhaps Bush is on some kind of experimental methadone-like treatment. Yes, I know Kitty Kelly is not a serious biographer, but she is a tough investigative reporter against whom legal challenges generally fail. The public recanting by Bush's sister-in-law, the source of the story, means nothing because Kelly went over her notes with an editor after the original interview. She called the sister-in-law in the editor's presence and reviewed the points of her story, having them all confirmed as accurate.
The disappearance of a huge stock of high explosives in Iraq following the invasion--enough apparently to fill about forty semi-trailers--was to say the least a rather unfavorable revelation. Please note there can be no doubt that Bush was aware of this cache which had been under close guard of UN officials, yet he took no measures to secure its safety during the invasion, any more than he did for Iraq's priceless cultural artifacts looted from museums at the time. Note also that analysis of the explosions that have been killing American troops surely reveals the stolen stock has been used, it being a distinctive and unusual explosive. Note, finally, that we did not learn of this dangerous event from Bush, but from that horrid organization, the UN.
Then we had the matter of a study in the Lancet from scientists at America's own Johns Hopkins University concluding that civilian deaths due to the invasion of Iraq were at least 100,000, half women and children. Lancet is Britain's best-known medical journal, and it does not publish rumors. It is peer-reviewed and highly regarded.
Of course, we have had no counts from the Pentagon of civilian deaths. An American woman's non-government organization made an effort to count deaths and came up with more than 10,000, the number most widely cited. Not long ago, an Iraqi group, people in a much better position to communicate and be accepted throughout Iraq, came up with the number 37,000, a number generally ignored in the American press. Now, we have a statistical study showing, at minimum, 100,000 civilian deaths.
So much for claims of pin-point bombing accuracy, although we should have all been conditioned to the utter falseness of such claims after the first Gulf War. I wish American journalists would in future insist that any Pentagon official making such claims publicly demonstrate them by having planes bomb dummy homes near one he or she is in on some military proving ground. We know this will never happen.
The fact remains that aerial bombardment is a crude weapon that always kills many more civilians than soldiers. The Pentagon favors it because pilots do not see the details of the terrible things they do and because many more ground troops would themselves be killed if it weren't for death from the skies. Clearly the Hitler idea of a terror weapon remains in the thinking of those who talk of "shock and awe." It has many home-town supporters, too, who enjoy full-color explosions and flames over dinner without the details of broken, mangled human beings. Oh, it's like being there, where real history is happening, only in complete safety from the couch.
Now, suddenly, just days before the election, we have Osama's Jesus-like face again appearing on every front page in the world. Who benefits from Osama's re-appearance? At first, you might say Kerry because the face is such a vivid reminder of Bush's utter failure. He didn't get the guy responsible for 9/11 (and from this tape we receive, for the first time, genuine evidence of Osama's involvement), but Bush sure managed to kill a lot of innocent people.
Almost certainly, the re-appearance serves Bush's interests, who for some unknown reason manages to hold a strong rating in polls narrowed to the specific issue of security.
I know it's a mind-numbing puzzle, but the man who shirked duty in Vietnam, the man who went AWOL from the National Guard, the man who spent years frying his brain with alcohol and cocaine, the man who continued reading about goats after being informed of the strike against the WTC, the man who has created armies of America-haters with his insane war in Iraq is regarded as strong on security by Americans.
The only rational explanation for this phenomenon is that Americans sense Bush's psychopathic qualities and are re-assured by them at a time of absurdly-exaggerated fear. After all, I had Americans writing me seriously, after 9/11, that Afghanistan should be reduced to a chunk of radioactive glass. American fundamentalists' much-beloved Old Testament and Book of Revelations, not to mention the entire history of Christianity, overflow with such bloodshed and ravings. Were a poll taken in America about the idea of "just killing them all," I think the results might be painfully revealing.
Osama and the boys chose a critical moment to endorse Bush because they know four more years of his violent, incompetent arrogance does more damage to western interests than any attack they could hope to mount.
John Chuckman lives in Canada.